Big Island man among victims identified in fentanyl deaths at Waikīkī hotel
A Big Island resident died during an incident over the weekend in which five people apparently suffered from fentanyl poisoning at a hotel in Waikīkī.
Steven Berengue, 53 of Kailua-Kona, was identified by the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office as one of the two people who died. Berengue was found Sunday after emergency responders were called to the Outrigger Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort at around midnight about a possible overdose with multiple victims.
Joseph Iseke, 44, of Kailua, O‘ahu, was pronounced dead at the hotel. Berengue died at the hospital. According to Honolulu Police, fentanyl was found at the scene.
Berengue’s death was mourned on social media. Active in the paddling community, he was a former coach for the Tui Tonga Hawai‘i Canoe Club.
A Facebook post by the canoe club read: “He was a very important part of our club and always supported the kids. Rest in Love Steven! Condolences to the Berengue Ohana!”
The three remaining individuals treated at the hotel — a 40-year-old man and two women, ages 47 and 53 — were taken to local hospitals where their conditions are currently unknown.
The medical examiner told the Honolulu newspaper, the Star-Advertiser, it could be months before an exact cause of death is determined. Honolulu police have opened two unattended death investigations in connection with the incident.
Illicit fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.
Gary Yabuta, Director for Hawai‘i’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency, said based on the information he received, the fentanyl in the hotel was believed to be present in another drug.